The Azerbaijan Art Experience

Claudia Meyer (FRANCE) “Untitled” (Commission), 2011Mixed media on canvas

Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers, Azerbaijani houses one of the world’s most interesting and diverse new art collections. The collection features 100 original fine art pieces by local and internationally renowned artists.

Farmboy Fine Arts, Inc.“Unison”, 2012 Powder-coated steel

To curate a collection as special as this it was necessary to find a company who understood not only the history and culture of the Land of Fire but who could also create a collection that was unique. For this mammoth task, Farmboy Fine Arts was selected and on a recent trip to London we caught up with Arial and Terrene.

Gülay Semercioğlu (TURKEY) “Green Gap”, 2009 wire on wood

Magellan (MAG): Can you tell us why you have chosen certain artists and how they fit into the collection inspired by the ghazal?  What makes them unattainable yet as a piece of art, offering an emotive response?

Hadieh Shafie (IRAN) “10750 Pages”, 2011 Ink and Paper with printed & hand written Farsi Text Esheghe “Love”

Farmboy (FB): Many of the works were chosen because they had an individual story that reflected our overall art concept. For example, the Iranian artist Hadieh Shafie’s work is composed of small bound scrolls that have handwritten poetry inside. These rolled scrolls are then combined to make up the completed composition. This is an example of how the three-dimensionality and tactile effect of the piece is beautiful and intriguing—both conceptually and physically. But there is also an added layer of depth with her study of calligraphy and poetry within the piece, even though you cannot actually read or see the poetry.

MAG: Could you tell us more about the local Azerbaijani art scene?  Can you see a theme developing- a school of Baku if you like? 

FB: While we were privileged to connect closely with the Baku art scene during this project, we were by no means experts when we started. As true collaborators though, we knew when to look to those forging the path in Baku and seek their input and ideas. It’s really the only way you can truly understand a place and connect with the people there. Some of the very talented people who were kind enough to help us and became friends along the way were Fakhriyya Mammadova, a young, talented artist whose work is representing Azerbaijan in the Venice Biennale this year. Sanan Askerkov was one of the first artists we visited and purchased, a wonderful photographer who has documented the fascinating history of Baku and continues to beautifully capture the city.

Faig Ahmed—whose work is featured in the collection—is fast becoming a star and is incredibly charming to boot. The Rustamov brothers—Teymur and Mahmud—were also wonderful windows to the history of sculpture in Baku, their father being the well-respected Azeri sculptor Aslan Rustamov. At one point I was lucky enough to spend time with three generations of Rustamovs!

Aida Mahmudova, an artist who founded Yarat! (a non-commercial organisation dedicated to the promotion and nurturing of contemporary art in Azerbaijan) is also bringing international artists to Baku to participate in group shows. Azeri gallerist Mila Askarova is one to watch internationally. With a gallery in Baku and a recently opened space in London on Dover Street, Mila was so welcoming and helpful when we first started on the project, connecting us to people on the ground and helping us understand the local dynamic, I can’t thank her enough. The Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture and Tourism was also incredibly helpful. The Department Chief of Fine and Decorative Arts, Galib Gasimov, took us on a studio tour one day to places we never would have found, like the old burnt out Soviet-style attics where modern painters and sculptors such as Huseyn Hagverdi work. The Flame Towers collection also features renowned Azeri artist Farkhand Khalilov, as we tried to represent both the rich artistic establishment of Baku as well as the emerging contemporary scene.

Sherin Guirguis (EGYPT/CANADA) “Untitled (Khamsa)”, 2012 Mixed media on hand-cut paper

MAG: Who do you think are the world class artists emerging – what sort of prices are their pieces garnering – do you see an investment opportunity?

FB: Artists in Baku are still in the early phases of emerging internationally—Phillips de Pury recently staged an exhibit, Fly to Baku, which was a major international coming out moment. But this youthful peroiod also makes Baku, in our opinion, a very exciting and prime market to get ‘in’ as far as investment pieces go. All the artists I mentioned here—along with many I haven’t—are investment worthy and have promising careers ahead of them.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre

MAG: With the local modern architecture – do you see designs like HOK’s Flame Towers and  Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center as stand-alone modern art too?  How does the architecture fit into Farmboy’s view of the art scene in Baku?

FB: The architecture in Baku is incredible, both the old-town historic sites like the Palace of the Shirvanshahs or Maiden Tower, as well as the new spectacular spaces like Zaha Hadid’s preforming arts centre and the Flame Towers. It is just another indication that arts and culture in Baku is not a new phenomenon, but that the city is really experiencing a renaissance of sorts in front of a very international audience.

Hotels to recommend:

  • Hotel Georgia, Vancouver for an incredible Canadian Collection set in our gorgeous hometown
  • W Miami for some of the biggest names in contemporary art
  • The Firmdale Hotel Group properties, London for unique intimate collections of varying emerging and established artists
  • The Ritz Carlton, Singapore for incredible commissioned works from the world’s art stars
  • The Merrion, Dublin
  • Hotel Arts, Barcelona

For more information on the The Azerbaijan Art Experience and Baku why not visit our YouTube channel?

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn & Sue Lowry

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a client of Magellan PR.  For more information, please visit, follow them on twitter @FairmontHotels, on Facebook/Fairmont Hotels and on Pinterest under FairmontHotels.  Their community website is  Fairmont Baku is on twitter: @FairmontBaku and on Facebook/FairmontBaku.

Magellan PR is on Twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on YouTube: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

About magellanstraits

Magellan Straits showcases the observations & musings from Magellan PR, a boutique travel & lifestyle agency founded in 1998. We post items that are of interest from the clients we promote and from the travels and experiences that we independently undertake.
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1 Response to The Azerbaijan Art Experience

  1. Pingback: Kaspar comes into his own! | magellanstraits

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